Clint Frazier ready to be big part of the Yankees Core Four 2.0

The red-headed kid with the bulging biceps and five-tool skills, who shouldered an avalanche of praise prior to entering the 2013 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, was already stoking Yankees fans’ excitement after a 2016 summer deadline trade brought Indians outfield prospect Clint Frazier to the Bombers in exchange for stud southpaw reliever Andrew Miller.

But four months later, Frazier may have endeared himself to the Bronx even more, when he pressed the “Tweet” button for a post and photograph directed at Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper.

“@Bharper3407 maybe i can give you some hair pointers when you join the yankees in the future,” Clint Frazier tweeted Nov. 23, along with a photo of his shorn ginger locks and an emoji of a baseball and a flame. The subtle recruiting pitch to the 2015 National League MVP — a full two seasons before Harper becomes a free agent — probably earned Frazier a few brownie points among Yankees fans. That’s saying something since Frazier, who ended this past season with the Yankees’ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Triple-A affiliate, hasn’t even stepped into the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium yet.

“We have a mutual friend. (Harper) and I have never met,” says Frazier, 22. “That was our first interaction with each other. Just all fun and games. I know that he’s a big hair guy. I just sent a tweet out saying that I shaved part of my head. I don’t know how he saw the tweet, but he responded. I just shot him a fun one back. I just thought it would be funny to fire up the Yankee fans a little bit.

Clint Frazier joined the Bombers organization after Yankees traded Andrew Miller to the Indians.

Clint Frazier joined the Bombers organization after Yankees traded Andrew Miller to the Indians.

(Chris Post/for New York Daily News)

“But I don’t think a Triple-A redhead is going to have much say in getting him to come over to the Yankees,” says Frazier. “I think a guy like Gary Sanchez might have more pull.”

Yes, Sanchez is the current Yankee wunderkind, coming off a partial season in which the catcher/designated hitter seemed to sock home runs every at-bat after he was called up in August. But with the team’s general manager Brian Cashman continuing to build on the organization’s youth movement, and with Frazier’s prodigious talent — he was the No. 5 pick overall in the 2013 draft — it may not be too long before the righty-hitting slugger from Loganville, Georgia is making back page headlines.

“I can see Major League talent,” says none other than Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, when asked what his impressions are of Frazier. “I like the athleticism. He has real good work habits. From there, it’s how he progresses. The pinstripes are a little heavier than other uniforms, but Clint certainly has the talent and I like the way he’s developing.”

* * *

Jeff Segars, the Loganville High head varsity baseball coach for the last 20 years, says that when Clint Frazier was a seventh-grader at the school, he was already shagging flies and helping set up equipment for the varsity squad, spending plenty of time educating his baseball intellect and honing his skills. A year later, Frazier was playing on one of the varsity C teams with ninth-graders. And over the four years Frazier played on the Loganville varsity squad, he started all four seasons and was one of the key players who helped Segars’ 2012 Red Devils team win a state championship.

“From his sophomore year, you could tell Clint was going to be a pro prospect — the bat speed, he had a good arm. He could throw 95, 96 (mph) off the mound,” says Segars, who adds that Frazier started out as a shortstop and then played third base before being moved to center field in 10th grade. “His speed started increasing. He was too fast to leave at third base. Clint was always a team player. Never a problem. We never worried about him getting into trouble in class, out of school. It was never about him and his stats.”

Clint Frazier in action for the Yankees' Florida Instructional League team in Florida in October.

Clint Frazier in action for the Yankees’ Florida Instructional League team in Florida in October.

(Cliff Welch/AP)

Despite his team-first mentality, Frazier’s high school numbers are hard to ignore. He still holds several of the Red Devils’ records, including most career home runs (63 from 2010-13); most stolen bases in a season (22 in 2013); most career hits (150 from 2010-13). He even tied for most homers in a game — 3 vs. Salem in 2012 — something Mr. October can appreciate. Frazier had a .432 career average in high school.

Frazier’s older sister, Taylor, says that she remembers scouts making a regular pilgrimage to Clint’s high school games once he reached ninth grade.

“I specifically remember one game when there were over 100 scouts there,” says Taylor Frazier, a Univ. of Georgia graduate who works in the pharmacy industry. “It was definitely a little nerve-wrecking, but I think we knew this was going to be a part of the process if this was the path Clint chose.”

Clint and Taylor Frazier are the only two children of Mark and Kim Frazier, high school sweethearts from Decatur, Ga. Clint and his sister credit their parents with keeping the baseball prodigy grounded and humble, even after Clint received a whopping $3.5 million signing bonus from the Indians in 2013, around the same time his family went through some financial hardship.

“At one point in time, my family was very financially stable. We didn’t have much worries. But then my dad lost his job, so we went from having a decent amount of money to my parents dipping into their retirement funds because they were struggling,” says Clint Frazier, whose father is in sales for a commercial fencing company, and whose mother is a preschool teacher in Gwinnett County.

“But the timing of the money (issue) was right around the draft. It kind of made me realize that money isn’t everything. I’m not going to take it for granted just because I was given X amount of dollars to play a sport that I’ve played my whole life,” adds Frazier, who had verbally committed to the Univ. of Georgia before getting drafted. “I’m fortunate enough to get to do this job every single day and impact people’s lives around me, whether it be on or off the field. I think it’s just a testimony to my family, my coaches and my friends for keeping me down to earth, regardless of the situation I’m in.”

Clint Frazier still holds several records for Loganville High.

Clint Frazier still holds several records for Loganville High.

(Courtesy Jeff Segars/Loganville High School)

* * *

With the Yankees stagnant in the standings during late July, Cashman got the green light from Hal Steinbrenner to unload several star veterans, including Miller, to jump-start an influx of young talent. Cuban reliever Aroldis Chapman went to the Cubs for highly-touted shortstop Gleyber Torres, while the Miller deal yielded Frazier, lefty pitcher Justus Sheffield (who is not related to former Yankee Gary Sheffield) and two other players.

Cashman calls Torres the “headliner” of the deal with the Cubs (which also brought three other players to the Yankees), but the GM also has plenty of praise for Frazier’s potential.

Clint Frazier hit 63 home runs as a high schooler, including three in one game.

Clint Frazier hit 63 home runs as a high schooler, including three in one game.

(Courtesy Jeff Segars/Loganville High School)

“(Frazier) is extremely talented. He has power, he can run, he plays with passion,” says Cashman, who adds that Frazier will probably begin 2017 at the Triple-A level. “He has the makeup to achieve excellence, and he has the hunger to succeed. He’s someone that stands out. In the Miller deal, I needed the twins (Frazier and Sheffield), the top of the talent structure of (the Indians) franchise to make a move. Frazier is impressive, and someone we can dream on.”

Cashman says Frazier got “baptized in Triple-A” this past year — the slugger batted .228 in 25 games for the SWB RailRiders, with three homers and 30 strikeouts — but the Yankee GM doesn’t think Frazier is far off from joining the big league club, although it would seem a stretch for him to do so in 2017.

“Do I think (Frazier) can impact 2017? There’s still more development to go, and if it takes another year in the minors, with the tool package he has, who knows?” says Cashman. “Players are ready when they’re ready. (Frazier) is waiting in the waters. It will be when he throws that exclamation point down.”

Taylor Frazier, seen here with her younger brother, recalls a game with more than 100 scouts in attendance.

Taylor Frazier, seen here with her younger brother, recalls a game with more than 100 scouts in attendance.

(Courtesy of Taylor Frazier)

For Frazier’s part, he says his performance will dictate where he starts next year, and how quickly he will ascend the baseball hierarchy. But make no mistake — Frazier is not only confident about making it to The Show, he also envisions the current youth foundation developing into a future Yankee dynasty. Core Four 2.0 anyone?

“Anytime you get a group like the one that we have right now around each other at all times, you can’t help but dream what the future can be like,” says Frazier. “We’ve got to come together and unite as a core group and make it happen. There’s a lot of really good players in the system, so for all of us to be competing for one goal, to make it to the big leagues and ultimately win a championship one day, that’s something that all of us have talked about.”

Frazier doesn’t know Gleyber Torres well, but he gushed about his fellow Yankee prospect, calling the Venezuelan infielder “really talented” and “beyond his years.”

Clint Frazier plays varsity ball for Loganville all four seasons and helped Red Devils to 2012 state title.

Clint Frazier plays varsity ball for Loganville all four seasons and helped Red Devils to 2012 state title.

(Courtesy Jeff Segars/Loganville High School)

“I’ve had brief conversations with (Torres) – he’s a gamer. He knows what it takes to go out there and compete every single day. I’m excited to play by his side one day. There’s a lot of guys ahead of me in the big leagues who deserve their chance to have that opportunity to play every single day. I’ve got to go up there and ultimately win a position. I do not know where I’m starting, but I know where I want to finish,” says Frazier, who is not opposed to playing any of the three outfield positions, although he prefers his customary center field spot.

* * *

Days after the trade that made him a Yankee, Frazier took to Twitter for several important announcements: to document the shearing of his unruly red mane (an Aug. 1 photo shows Frazier in a hair salon chair, complying with the Yankees’ long-standing facial hair policy); to express his joy with being in pinstripes (“feels good to be a Yankee!” reads an Aug. 3 post); and to try and woo Instagram fitness and lingerie model Jen Selter. Take that Matt Harvey.

Clint Frazier got a whopping $3.5 million signing bonus from the Indians in 2013.

Clint Frazier got a whopping $3.5 million signing bonus from the Indians in 2013.

(Courtesy Jeff Segars/Loganville High School)

“@JenSelter now that both of us are in New York, I think it’s only fair you let me take you on a date! #SelterFrazierDate,” reads Frazier’s Aug. 4 post.

Alas, Frazier says “no potential date was set up” with Selter, but “there were a few messages exchanged back and forth.” Frazier says the Selter tweet gave him a big taste of what lays ahead with the New York media maw — the Frazier to Selter tweet story went viral almost immediately — but he is quick to add that prides himself on having a “strong personality” that he says will not be muzzled.

“I definitely did not anticipate that to blow up like it did, but it did and I’m not going to go public with that again,” says Frazier with a laugh. “I got the run-down on how the media is the day after I was traded. I spoke with a few people from the organization and they kind of let me know how it was. I’m going to be myself. I’m not going to hesitate to send something out there that I think is me. I don’t want to be limited, and think I don’t have freedom of speech.”

Clint Frazier as an 8th grader.

Clint Frazier as an 8th grader.

(Courtesy Jeff Segars/Loganville High School)

“But I do make sure that before I send a tweet out, that I’ve looked at it for a few minutes. A bunch of mine are either a corny joke or something along the lines to fire up some fans and get ‘em excited. I want the fans to be excited for me to debut,” he says.

* * *

Frazier devotes his offseason to working out at Atlanta’s Catalyst Fitness, where he says the fitness center’s founder, Bill Sonnemaker, is “destroying me every time I come in.”

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Gleyber Torres (l.) and Clint Frazier are ready to be the future stars of the Yankees.

(Cliff Welch/AP)

Sonnemaker, who trains other MLB players like Jon Lester, says Frazier is a “beast when he trains,” and that the slugger has a work ethic beyond compare.

Frazier is also a frequent visitor to his old high school, where he’ll routinely use the facilities and take hacks in the school’s batting cages along with his dad, Mark. All the preparation, sweat and tears are part of a singular goal — to help make the Yankees the Yankees again.

“When me and my dad got a chance to sit down (after the trade), I just looked at him and I was like, ‘Dad, I’m with the Yankees now. This is awesome.’ It’s just a different ball game with these guys – the resources that they have, the people,” says Frazier, who got star struck meeting Jackson and Alex Rodriguez this year. “Everyone is amazing here. For me to be able to put that jersey on one day, it’s going to be really fun, man. I’m really looking forward to it.”

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